sealPurdue News

November 1998

Purdue's new Food Science Building opens for business

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- New and improved food science graduates won't be the only product coming out of the new food science complex at Purdue University. The new $28 million facility, dedicated this fall, offers opportunities for food and fiber companies that want to augment internal research and development efforts with expanded sponsored research projects.

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"The new building will provide us with expanded research facilities, including equipment," says Philip Nelson, head of the Department of Food Science. "This will allow us the opportunity to work directly with companies to develop new technologies for the food industry."

Because cost-cutting has significantly reduced corporate research funding, aligning with Purdue provides a business advantage, Nelson says. Such a partnership allows businesses to perform cooperative research with Purdue at less cost than doing it alone.

"Our industrial partners will have the advantage of working with a team of internationally known Purdue University professors," Nelson says. "They will have access to resources that are duplicated nowhere else."

Purdue's Department of Food Science is recognized as a world leader in aseptic processing, carbohydrate research and computer-integrated food manufacturing. Dedicated to satisfying the needs of both industry and consumers, the department has contact with more than 100 companies annually. Interactive relationships with more than 30 core companies form three key industry alliance efforts: the Industrial Associates Program, the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research and the Computer-Integrated Manufacturing Center.

"Aseptic processing in the pilot lab will be a major new thrust," Nelson says, thanks in part to a major equipment gift from Gerber Products Co. including new analytical equipment to examine advances in food safety.

Additionally, the department plans a faster response to industry needs, Nelson says. He says the new pilot laboratory will allow industry to test new methods or processes without significant initial start-up delays or costs.

Operating as a small manufacturing area, the pilot laboratory allows students and manufacturers to see how a process functions before putting it into production. Specific capabilities include aseptic and thermal processing of liquid and particulate foods, equipment design and development, destructive and nondestructive package integrity testing, sensor evaluation and application, and process design and improvement. In addition, the lab can evaluate shelf-life and sensory characteristics of foods.

The Computer-Integrated Food Manufacturing Center focuses on the integration of all aspects of production, from product design and production to shipping and distribution.

Graduates of the Purdue food science program are considered among the top-ranked in the nation, Nelson says, thanks to targeted recruiting and a 100 percent placement rate over the past decade. The department had the highest enrollment growth in the School of Agriculture this fall, and starting salaries in 1997 averaged $32,000 and as high as $42,000. The list of employers includes such giants as M&M Mars, General Mills Inc., Kraft Foods Inc. and Frito-Lay Inc.

CONTACT: Nelson, (765) 494-8256; e-mail,

Compiled by Kate Walker, (765) 494-2073; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

Kent Wert, manager of the Computer-Integrated Food Manufacturing Center in Purdue's new Food Science Building, oversees the work of master's students Gopal Rangaswamy and Amy Devitt. The two are working on a direct stream injection tank that purifies the food products produced in a new pilot lab. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
Color photo, electronic transmission, and Web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Wert.foodsci
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